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Ketanji Brown Jackson sworn in as first Black woman on the Supreme Court

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson poses for a portrait on Feb. 18, 2022.
Image credit: Jacquelyn Martin


Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in Thursday at noon as the 116th Supreme Court justice and the first Black woman to serve on the high court.

At a noon ceremony at the Supreme Court, Jackson was joined by her husband and two children for the swearing in. A formal investiture will follow in fall.

Jackson took two oaths during the livestreamed event: a constitutional oath, administered by Chief Justice John Roberts, and a judicial oath, administered by Justice Stephen Breyer.

Biden nominated Jackson in February, fulfilling a campaign promise to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court.

“It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a Black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, but we’ve made it! We’ve made it — all of us,” Jackson said in remarks at a White House event the day after the Senate vote.

“I have dedicated my career to public service because I love this country and our Constitution and the rights that make us free,” Jackson also said.

Jackson, 51, has been confirmed since April, when the Senate voted 53 to 47 on her nomination. It was expected she would replace 83-year-old Justice Breyer — whom she clerked for after she graduated from Harvard Law School in 1996 — when he stepped down. His retirement will be effective Thursday.

She faced contentious Senate confirmation hearings

All 50 Senate Democrats, including the two independents and three Republicans — Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — voted in favor of Jackson’s confirmation. The vote was lauded as a “historic moment” by Democrats, though the confirmation process was filled with clashes between the parties over Jackson’s past judicial decisions.

Jackson served eight years as a federal trial court judge and last June was confirmed for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia after also being nominated for that post by Biden.

Jackson is the first Supreme Court justice since Thurgood Marshall to have represented indigent criminal defendants as a public defender.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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